Sriram Murali. Billions of fireflies lighting up a Tiger Reserve.

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Searching for stars near my hometown, Pollachi in India, led me to the forests of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. As I moved away from towns and their lights, the darker it got, the more I could see - fireflies, stars. I was fascinated seeing hundreds of fireflies flashing at the edge of the forest and heard stories of trees laden with fireflies deep in the forest.

In April 2022, I set out to a remote area of the reserve along with forest officials. Flashes of green started appearing at twilight. As the place grew dark, millions of fireflies started synchronizing their flashes across several trees. Flashes started in one tree and were carried across several trees like a mexican-wave.

I felt transported to a time centuries before. This experience brought me closest to my dream of witnessing life on another planet. It's also sad that fireflies have become so rare that such scenes feel ethereal.

Sriram Murali is a Natural History filmmaker, IUCN Species Survival Commission Firefly Specialist group member, a Dark Sky Advocate and a co-founder of Wild and Dark Earth, a non-profit initiative to conserve nocturnal habitats in India.

Follow Sriram on Instagram @sriram_murali.


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